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Against Minnesota, it’s the Carolina Panthers’ turn to make a point

By Scott Fowler
sfowler@charlotteobserver.com

Are you ready for some scoring?

We should get some on Sunday, when Minnesota hosts Carolina. The Vikings’ lackluster defense should be something of a cure for Carolina – and if it’s not, we can be guaranteed that the offense’s problems are rooted very deeply. Minnesota has given up at least 27 points in every game this season, which is a large part why the Vikings are 1-3, just like Carolina.

On the other hand, the Vikings have scored at least 24 points in every game, primarily because fearsome running back Adrian Peterson is almost impossible to keep out of the end zone. That opens up the passing attack for whichever quarterback the Vikings are currently employing. If Carolina doesn’t get into the end zone Sunday – which is what happened last week in the Panthers’ horrid 22-6 loss to Arizona – it will be a huge surprise.

•  The Vikings and Panthers have played 10 times in team history, and my favorite single play in those games was referred to in the box score simply as “Johnson 3 pass from Johnson.”

This was in 1997. The game was tied 7-7 in the fourth quarter. Minnesota had it third-and-goal from the Carolina 3. Minnesota quarterback Brad Johnson faded back, fired – and had the ball knocked into the air by Panthers nose tackle Greg Kragen. But the ball came right back to the quarterback. Johnson caught it and scored – one of the few times in football history a quarterback actually threw a touchdown pass to himself. I still wonder how that was scored in fantasy football.

•  What a day Sunday will be for the Kalil family. Offensive linemen Ryan (Carolina) and Matt (Minnesota) play against each other, and sister Danielle sings the national anthem beforehand. I imagine they will be all over the TV coverage – at least as much as a couple of offensive linemen can be. We’re not going to be filming “The Book of Kalil” anytime soon – it’s not quite that big.

•  Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave served the same role for Carolina in 2000, but then he quit early in the season in a “Take This Job and Shove It” sort of moment with then-coach George Seifert.

•  Hard to imagine that the Vikings made the playoffs last season. Both these teams look a long way from that goal right now – each has only a single win against an otherwise winless team this season. I have picked the Panthers’ outcome correctly the past two weeks – including a pick of Arizona to upset Carolina last week – after missing the first two. This time around I see the Panthers rebounding in a high-scoring game. Carolina 30, Minnesota 26.

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